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National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary

June 18, 2012

28 Sivan 5772

Ramah at 66: We Are Thriving!


Dear Friends of Ramah,

The 66th summer season for Ramah camps and Israel programs started last week, and we are thrilled to say once again that Ramah camping is strong and growing! Our camps throughout North America and our programs in Israel will provide powerful experiences to thousands of our children, teens, and young adults this summer:
    Ramah Poconos 2011
  • More than 9,000 campers and staff will attend our eight overnight camps, three day camps, and Israel programs.  

  • More than 1,500 university and graduate students will work as counselors, teachers, and specialists, along with an additional 200 professionals -- rabbis, cantors, social workers, psychologists, doctors, nurses, Jewish educators, coaches, and others.

  • More than 1,200 individuals will participate in one of the programs offered by Ramah Programs in Israel this year, including 215 participants on Ramah Israel Seminar this summer, 54 students in our high school semester programs in Israel (TRY and USY High), and hundreds more through Ramah Israel Institute's trips for synagogue family groups and Solomon Schechter and other school groups.

  • More than 500 key educators participated in National Ramah staff training and leadership development programs in preparation for the 2012 camp season. Training for mishlachat (Israeli staff members) and Israel-based Hebrew language instructors took place in Israel this spring. Last month, some 150 staff members attended the National Ramah 2012 Spring Leadership Conference at Ramah Darom: Rashei edot (division heads) from Ramah camps participated in the annual Winer Institute for Rosh Edah Training; fellows of the AVI CHAI-funded Daber Hebrew Language Initiative worked to develop ideas and share best practices for strengthening Hebrew language usage throughout our camps; in a program funded by the Neshamot Fund of UJA-Federation of New York, staff members and directors from Ramah special needs programs collaborated on National Ramah Tikvah Network initiatives; and finally, staff members from Ramah and URJ camps participated in the KIVUN Fellowship Program (see below).

  • More than 275 campers will participate in the third season of Ramah Outdoor Adventure, Ramah's first specialty camp, located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This is approximately 2.4 times the number of campers that participated in the 2010 inaugural season.

  • More than 200 young people and 45 families will participate in Ramah's 13 special needs programs. Through Tikvah, Breira B'Ramah, and other special needs programs, Ramah camps provide a summer experience for children, teens, and young adults with learning challenges, emotional disorders, and other developmental disabilities. Our newest Tikvah program begins this year at Ramah Outdoor Adventure. In addition, at Darom's Camp Yofi, California's Camp Ohr Lanu, and Poconos's Tikvah Family Camp, Ramah offers a camp experience for families of children with special needs. 

  • Mishlachat 2012More than 200 mishlachat members will strengthen the connections between our camp communities and Israel. Read more about Mishlachat 2012 (pictured right).

  • kivun
  • More than 95 Ramah and URJ camp staff members participated in the Kivun Fellowship Program, funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation. Kivun, the first-ever partnership between the Conservative and Reform camping movements to jointly train camp specialists, brought together staff members from both movements for joint training in visual arts, performing arts, waterfront, sports instruction, songleading, and teva (nature) and outdoor adventure. 

  • Approximately 30 rabbinical, cantorial, education, and other graduate students from The Jewish Theological Seminary, as well as others from The Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and other graduate schools, will be senior educators at Ramah.

  • The number of Ramah Service Corps interns increased from 18 last year to 28 this year, an increase of more than 50%. We intend to continue and grow the Ramah Service Corps in coming years, in order to nurture the development of our staff and connect them to year-round Jewish communities, where they bring the best of Ramah-style programming to schools, family events, and youth activities.   
Fifty-one riders have now registered to participate in the Second Annual Ramah Israel Bike Ride to support Ramah special needs programs (April 23-30, 2013)! Stay tuned for information coming soon about "Ramah Hikes the Negev," a hiking trip that will take place concurrently with the Ramah Israel Bike Ride. The two trips will share overlapping stays in Jerusalem and Eilat, as well as a Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon. For more information, please call the National Ramah office at (212) 678-8881.
With the help of many Federations, foundations and the Foundation for Jewish Camp, and with the extraordinary efforts of our camp professional leadership and boards of directors, we have been able to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority of families seeking a Ramah experience for their children. It is not too late to support this effort. Please click here to contribute to a Ramah scholarship fund.

As our 66th summer of intensive Jewish education within the fun, informal atmosphere of excellent summer camping continues, all of us at Ramah feel privileged to have this opportunity to influence the lives of more than 9,000 participants in our various camps and programs.

Kayitz na'im!

Mitch Cohen  

Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, National Ramah Director